as THE 100th staging of the Scottish Ladies’ Amateur Championship gets underway today at Prestwick, the event’s 2010 winner is celebrating her best feat so far in the professional ranks.
Kelsey MacDonald, who claimed the title in the SLGA’s flagship event at Craigielaw, has secured a spot in next month’s US Women’s Open after producing an impressive display in its first-ever European qualifier.
The Nairn Dunbar player finished joint-second in the 36-hole test at Buckinghamshire Golf Club, carding rounds of 72 and 71 for a one-under-par total as she secured one of just eight cards up for grabs.
Only Amy Boulden, one of MacDonald’s closest friends and a member of the winning Great Britain & Ireland side in the 2012 Curtis Cup at Nairn, bettered that aggregate as the Welsh player finished on 142 following a brace of 71s.
South African Nicole Garcia (71, 72) shared second spot with MacDonald while the remaining five places went to English trio Holly Clyburn, Lucy Williams and Rebecca Hudson as well as Australian duo Stephanie Na and Nikki Campbell as they all finished on level-par.
The prize for MacDonald and the seven other qualifiers is a place alongside the world’s top players at Pinehurst when it stages the US Women’s Open on 19-22 June.
It’s a terrific achievement by MacDonald, who suffered the bitter disappointment of missing out on a Curtis Cup appearance in her home town but is starting to show signs of finding her feet in the paid ranks.
MacDonald was almost joined in next month’s major by compatriot Kylie Walker. She carded rounds of 73 and 72 but just missed out along with Melissa Reid, with amateur Annabel Dimmock, winner of last month’s Helen Holm Trophy at Troon, a further stroke back. Others to miss out included Sally Watson, who played in last year’s event, Carly Booth, Vikki Laing and Katy McNicoll.
Meanwhile, MacDonald’s success is a real boost for the Scottish women’s game heading into this week’s milestone event at Prestwick, where Kilmacolm’s Eilidh Briggs is aiming to celebrate her recent Curtis Cup selection in style.
“I played in the British Women’s Strokeplay at Prestwick last year so I know it is a tough course of real quality,” said Briggs, who will face the Americans at St Louis Country Club next month along with fellow Scot Gemma Dryburgh. “A lot will depend on the weather. If the wind blows it will be really difficult.”
While Dryburgh is still fulfulling college commitments in America, Briggs will face stiff competition from the likes of defending champion Alyson McKechin (Elderslie) and emerging talent Connie Jaffrey (Troon Ladies).